Cuban/NY pianist David Virelles in his first solo album, 14 original compositions and 2 from Cuban composers, blending modern jazz with Cuban, African and European influences, a tour-de-force of clear and balanced, irrepresible rhythms and elegant ballads, an inspired album opening on marimbula and expanded with percussion from Julio Barreto on three tracks.
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Label: Pi Recordings
Catalog ID: PI94
Squidco Product Code: 31979
Packaging: Digipack - 3 panel
Recorded during Covid by the artist.
David Virelles-acoustic piano, Marimbula
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• Show Bio for David Virelles
"Cuban-born pianist David Virelles grew up in a musical home, his father a singer-songwriter and his mother a flutist and music teacher. Even though classically trained at the conservatory, he also heard many types of music in the culturally rich Santiago while growing up. Eventually, Virelles also discovered Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and Andrew Hill, and started studying the connections between this music and Cuban rhythms.
In 2003, David became the first recipient of the Oscar Peterson Prize, presented by Peterson himself. Since his arrival to NYC, he has appeared on live concerts and recordings with musicians as diverse as Steve Coleman, Mark Turner, Henry Threadgill, Andrew Cyrille, Chris Potter, Wadada Leo Smith, Tom Harrell, Milford Graves and Ravi Coltrane.
David's 2012 release Continuum (Pi Recordings) united Andrew Cyrille, Ben Street and Román Díaz. This album ended on many "Best Of The Year" lists, including The New York Times. Since then, he has released three more albums on the Munich label ECM to critical acclaim, documenting a wide sonic range - Mbóko, Antenna, and his latest Gnosis."-Pi Recordings (https://pirecordings.com/artists/david-virelles/)
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1. Spacetime 02:10
2. Ocho 04:06
3. Ghost Town 03:20
4. Rezo 03:27
5. A Tres Voces 00:44
6. Nacen 03:12
7. Al Compas De Mi Viejo Tres 04:22
8. Simple Answer 03:10
9. Ignacio Villa 05:03
10. Danza De Rosario 05:40
11. Mambo Escalonado 04:57
12. Tessellations 03:10
13. Cuando Canta El Cornetin 06:50
14. Portico 03:39
15. Germania 02:16
16. Casa 02:22
sample the album:
"Nuna is a book of compositions for solo piano by Cuban-American pianist and composer David Virelles. A 2021 recipient of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, Virelles has worked with musicians as distinct as Henry Threadgill, Andrew Cyrille, Ravi Coltrane, Mark Turner, Chris Potter, Tomasz Stanko, Steve Coleman, Wadada Leo Smith, Paul Motian, Bill Frisell, Tom Harrell and Milford Graves. His release Continuum (Pi 2012) was named the best jazz release of that year by The New York Times. After three esteemed releases on the ECM label, Virelles returned to Pi with Igbo Alakorin: The Singers Grove (2017), which was voted top Latin Jazz album in that year's NPR Jazz Critics Poll.
Nuna is the consequence - as with so many others - of Virelles's time in isolation during the Covid pandemic. His first project in that time was Transformación del Arcoiris, a captivating set of music for synthesizer, piano and sampler that was released in August 2020 as part of Pi Recordings' Bandcamp-only "This is Now: Love in the Time of Covid" series, which sought to help make up for some of the wages lost by musicians due to the pandemic. The New York Times called the release "Spellbinding.... Throughout, there is a feeling of lines evaporating - between musical performance and everyday life, between conceptualism and folklore, between togetherness and solitude."
The seclusion naturally led to the completion of the present work for solo piano - some of which was premiered during a residency at the Spoleto Festival - which finds Virelles exploring the totality of his influences on the instrument, from improvisational contexts, Cuban traditional music, African keyboard traditions and European piano practices, all filtered through a modernist harmonic lens. Virelles cites as inspirations a wide range of pianists in the liner notes, from Frederic Chopin and Alexander Scriabin to the tributaries of African-diasporic music - both Black American and Cuban musicians, but also the Algerian pianist Mustapha Skandrani and Ethiopian Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou.
Virelles describes Nuna as "a metaphor for the piano as an ancient instrument." While the sonorities of the Steinway Model D concert grand piano are often on full display in his playing, he pays equal emphasis to tempering the instrument's natural resonance, connecting it more to the sound of folkloric instruments such as thumb pianos, harps and drums. He achieves this purely through touch and pedaling, without any other mechanical manipulation or "prepping." Indeed, the entire album is a demonstration of Virelles's masterful control of shading, dynamics and timbre.
The set begins with "Spacetime," a mysterious invocation played on the marímbula, a large, resonant wooden box with metal keys, that is used traditionally in changüí music. It is followed by a program of original compositions - with the exception of "Cuando Canta El Cornetín," and "Germania" by Santiago de Cuba composers Mariano Mercerón and Sindo Garay, respectively. Virelles mostly plays solo, except on three tracks where he is joined by percussionist Julio Barreto, a long-standing member of Gonzalo Rubalcaba's group in the 1990s. Virelles describes each piece as "its own little cosmos focused on one musical approach or idea." The range of inspirations includes Cuban atmospheres, New York experimentalism, post-romantic harmonics, improvisational swing and sonic textures. The playing is elegant, favoring clean lines that make clear the music's rhythmic invention and contrapuntal weave. Each piece is a sparkling précis of their manifold influences, and they never resort to easy cultural or performative clichés. It's all unmistakably the work of a singular probing intellect. As with each of Virelles's projects, Nuna bridges the folkloric with the contemporary, while shrouded in an aura of mystery."-Pi Recordings
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